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Women’s Hair Loss, Causes and Medications
Normally, when we think about hair loss or balding, we think about men. However, women can also be affected by hair loss. Of the more than 100,000 hairs connected to a woman’s scalp, well above 90 percent are in an active state of growth. Hair is one of the fastest growing tissues on the human body. It is up to the owner of this vivacious mane to keep it healthy.
Many women don’t even realize that they may be actually experiencing hair loss. Between brushing, combing, and styling, there are a lot of opportunities to simply pull hair out, leaving it to linger amid the still intact follicles. Women routinely dry, curl, straighten, braid, or pull their hair up into some form of fashion. Then, they brush it out near the sink or get out of the shower and see a mass of it trying to clog the drain. Most will just attribute it to how rough they are on their hair.
The quickest way to tell the difference in hair you’ve pulled loose and hair that has fallen out is to simply pull a few more strands out by hand. If they put up a fight and you have to yank them away from your scalp, you don’t have an issue. If they slip right out from the root without any effort, you are experiencing hair loss that is not a result of damage due to styling.
Hair is connected to a follicle. Follicles of hair will average an age of a few years, all the way up to seven years, before falling out and being replaced. It is normal for a woman to lose around one hundred hairs each day as a natural result of this process. So, unless you are losing much more than this amount, you are not experiencing an abnormal amount of hair loss. You have no need for concern unless your hair loss at least triples this amount each day.
It could very well be the effects of stress or medication you’ve been on. Keep in mind that it may take up to three months for either of these to begin showing the side effect of hair loss, so do not just consider what has happened in the immediate past when examining causes. Also, illnesses or events that cause a lot of strain and exhaustion can cause hair loss. Some examples of this would be the flu, pneumonia, losing weight quickly, poor nutrition or surgery. One of the most common culprits is childbirth, both because of the trauma of the birth itself and the affects the sudden hormone loss once the baby is born has on the body.
When it comes to hormones, there are all sorts of changes that can send the female body out of whack and result in hair loss. In addition to the childbirth already mentioned, women are subject to the effects of birth control pills, menopause, and hysterectomy resulting in hormone therapy or replacement hormones.
Additionally, there are quite a few medications generally prescribed to women that may cause hair loss. Some of the most common ones are heparin, interferon, Accutane, altace, klonopin, and valproic acid. These medications have some of the highest history of occurrences, all causing hair loss in more than 5 percent of patients that take them.
There are also some drugs that do not directly lead to hair loss, but they affect processes in the body that can lead to deficiencies or changes that weaken the follicles, resulting in hair loss. Among the more common ones are acyclovir, Lupron, cyclosporin, some anti-arrhythmia medications, naproxen (when taken in high doses), paxil, zoloft and effexor.
Many women who are forced into cycles of chemotherapy will lose their hair within a week or two of beginning treatment. This is not a permanent hair loss. Once chemotherapy is stopped, the hair will normally grow back within six months. Due to overall poor health, there is always the possibility that it could take longer or that other factors could cause hair loss. However, the loss from the chemotherapy itself will usually not cause any long-term damage.
The bottom line with hair loss in women is that it is usually not a permanent problem. While there are some women out there that suffer from a type of hereditary balding; most hair loss is caused by some sort of factor that will not always be present. Once the factor is removed or overcome, regrowth should occur within six months. If you can associate the hair loss with a medication you are taking, ask your doctor if he can prescribe something different for you. If you can determine other causes alone or by seeing your physician, then you can take measures to correct the issue. Hair loss can be treated or prevented.